My Story - Anxiety and Me, the power of running

Trafford 10k

To support Time to Talk Day on Thursday 1st February, England Athletics are encouraging people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental wellbeing through running and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking. 

Jonathan Leech (running handicap 13.4)  is 38 years old, married and has three amazing children. Following an 8-year service in the Royal Air Force he began work as a Senior Facilities Definition Engineer based in Lancashire. In 2010, he was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis (PSA) following two years of test and operations, it left him struggling to walk and unable to use his hands meaning everyday tasks such as getting dressed and tying shoelaces became impossible. Jonathan starting asking questions to himself; why me? What will happen to me? Along with a lot of other people he started the process of collecting up these negative thoughts, putting them in a hypothetical box and locking them away in his brain never to be seen again (or so he thought!).

By 2015 he had started a new revolutionary treatment for his arthritis which allowed him to live a completely normal life. The only downside was that he had a suppressed immune system, meaning he gets infections easier than most people; especially when living at home with three germ sharing children. But to have his life and mobility back felt that was a small price to pay.

Whilst driving to work one morning Jonathan felt odd, something wasn’t right but he couldn’t identify it? He recalls the events of that day and the weeks and months to come, ‘I felt hot, dry mouth, dizzy, disorientated, my heart was racing, I was soaking with sweat, I felt out of control like I was going to crash the car, I had to get off the motorway and have a break. However, once I had left the motorway the symptoms started to dissipate I didn’t have a clue what was going on. As the days progressed things continued in this vain instead of trying to work out what it was I would avoid this by starting to find alternate commutes without motorways. But the symptoms would have a unique way of tracking me down and finding me no matter where I drove. I finally went to see me GP and after a chat and examination, the result was a diagnosis of anxiety and depression, they prescribed me some anti-depressants and referred me for counselling. I agreed to take the meds but felt I didn’t need counselling, it’s not that bad!

'After a lengthy absence from work I returned feeling better and ready to go. I was asked by so many people how I was and most people assumed it was my arthritis that had kept me from work. So, it was easier to let them believe this than admit I had mental health issues. This unfortunately led to another period of absence from work however this time through the company I received counselling and am also now receiving counselling from the NHS.  Here I am now in 2018, back in work and on my way to fighting my mental health demons and it has been a constant battle, always worrying and waiting for the next period of anxiety and panic attacks to happen.

'The biggest breakthrough I have had in recent years was fully admitting to myself I had a problem and that the only way I could and would find a solution to this by talking about my mental health and accepting help that was offered to me from family, friends, colleagues and professionals. The other breakthrough was the discovery of the positive effects exercise had upon my mental health, this started me on my journey with running which currently sees me as a parkrun Director, Club Runner and Mental Health Ambassador for England Athletics. So that’s it in a nut shell, however the journey continues I still have good days and bad days with mental health, but I have the support network in place to help me deal with it and most of all I can focus upon how I can help others in similar situations and actively breakdown the stigma of mental health.’ 

Further news stories on England Athletics website. 



To support Time to Talk Day on Thursday 1st February England Athletics are encouraging people to #RunAndTalk to improve their mental wellbeing through running and to break down the stigma associated with mental health by getting people talking about it.
During the week of 27th January to 2nd February 2018 we’re encouraging people to run one mile or further and to have a chat with friends, family, colleagues or other runners. This can be done at a time and location of their choice or by joining one of the organised runs at an England Athletics club or RunTogether group.